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GENETICALLY MODIFIED PEST-PROTECTED PLANTS: SCIENCE AND REGULATION
neered to resist pests.1 As a result, the NRC appointed and funded a committee in 1999 to conduct the study reported here. The committee was charged with the following task:
The committee will investigate risks and benefits of genetically modified pest-protected (GMPP) plants, and the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology (Coordinated Framework) affecting the use of these plants. The study will 1) review the principles in the NAS Council's white paper, Introduction of Recombinant DNA-Engineered Organisms into the Environment (1987), for their continued scientific validity and assess their appropriateness for current decisions regarding GMPP plants, 2) review scientific data which address the risks and benefits of GMPP plants, 3) examine the existing and proposed regulations in light of the identified risks and benefits, 4) examine existing and proposed regulations to qualitatively assess their consequences for research, development, and commercialization of GMPP plants, and 5) provide recommendations to address the identified risks/benefits, and, if warranted, for the existing and proposed regulation of GMPP plants.
Note: The study does not address philosophical and social issues surrounding the use of genetic engineering in agriculture, food labeling, or international trade in genetically modified plants.
As instructed by the charge, the committee focused on transgenic pest-protected plants; however, many of its conclusions and recommendations are applicable to other categories of transgenic plants. Because of public concerns about the safety of our food supply, the committee has placed less emphasis on potential benefits of transgenic pest-protected plants than on potential risks, even when some of these risks seem remote.
During a four-month period, the committee met three times to discuss the issues, review data, and obtain input from the public. Representatives from government-agencies, industry, and nongovernment organizations were invited to discuss the issues and their challenges and concerns. In addition, the committee hosted a public workshop on May 24, 1999, to obtain input from a variety of experts and other interested parties (appendix C). The committee requested data that were submitted for regulatory review of transgenic pest-protected plants from the US
For consistency, the committee adopts the broad definition of pest used by the statutes which govern the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (for example, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Federal Plant Pest Act). This definition includes not only invertebrate animals such as insects and nematodes, but also microorganisms such as protozoa, viruses, bacteria, or fungi. In some disciplines, a more narrow definition of pests is used. For example, plant pathologists typically refer to insects as pests and disease-causing microorganisms as pathogens.